Physical fitness is longitudinally associated with academic performance during childhood and adolescence, and waist circumference mediated the relationship
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPediatric Exercise Science. 2018, 30, 317-325. 10.1123/pes.2017-0206
Purpose: The current investigation aimed to investigate the longitudinal association between physical fitness and academic performance over 3 years in adolescents. A secondary aim was to determine to what extent waist circumference mediated the association between physical fitness and academic performance. Methods: For the current study, 1020 students from first grade [mean age: 7.87 (0.34) y] to fifth grade [mean age: 11.87 (0.37) y] were monitored annually for 3 years (2010–2013). Physical fitness was assessed using the Andersen test, 5 × 5-m shuttle run, jump height, and grip strength tests and by constructing a composite score combining all 4 fitness tests. Academic performance was assessed by national standardized tests in Danish language and math. Generalized structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the relationships between these variables. Results: The Andersen test (standardized β = 0.15 SD), shuttle run (β = −0.18 SD), jump height (β = 0.10 SD), and the fitness composite score (β = 0.23 SD) were positively associated with academic performance over 3 years. In addition, waist circumference partially mediated the association between physical fitness and academic performance. Conclusion: Thus, physical fitness abilities should be stimulated during childhood and early adolescence because of their positive association with academic performance.
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